EPL

West Ham 0-1 Chelsea: Werner settles London derby

By Sports Desk April 24, 2021

Timo Werner ended his goal drought as Chelsea strengthened their grip on fourth place in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory at fellow Champions League hopefuls West Ham.

Werner had gone 14 games without finding the back of the net for club and country before opening the scoring just before half-time at London Stadium on Saturday.

The Germany forward also missed a golden opportunity in an entertaining derby, which Thomas Tuchel's side deservedly won to go three points clear of the fifth-placed Hammers.

Fabian Balbuena was sent off 10 minutes from time for catching Ben Chilwell after playing the ball as West Ham's hopes of securing a surprise Champions League spot took another blow with five games remaining.

Chelsea made a bright start and Werner flashed a shot over the crossbar after Mason Mount picked him out in the penalty area.

Lukasz Fabianski saved Mount's shot after the lively midfielder turned sharply in the box, and Christian Pulisic fired a first-time strike straight at the West Ham goalkeeper following an excellent run from Werner down the right flank.

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta breathed a huge sigh of relief when a VAR check ruled he had not handled Tomas Soucek's goal-bound drive in the area and Werner opened the scoring two minutes before the break.

The former RB Leipzig forward was involved in a brilliant sweeping move before racing into the area to finish Ben Chilwell's pinpoint cross with his right foot from seven yards out.

Werner should have doubled Chelsea's lead early in the second half, but he somehow failed to hit the target from a few yards out when following up after Fabianski saved a strike from Mount.

Jesse Lingard went close to equalising with a right-footed attempt that looped just past the far post before Fabianski dived to keep out a long-range drive from the excellent Mount.

The busy Fabianski got down well to deny Werner and the Hammers' hopes of salvaging something from the game took a big blow when Balbuena saw red following a VAR check, having followed through on Chilwell after launching the ball clear.

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    Madrid struggled to find a way past an inspired Fernando Martinez in the Almeria goal, before Lucas Vazquez, who had an effort ruled out in the first half for offside, eventually pulled Madrid level shortly after the hour mark.

    Alaba replaced Ferland Mendy in the 74th minute and with his first touch curled a sumptuous free-kick past Fernando from 25 yards to seal all three points.

    Madrid's defence was caught out in just the sixth minute when Ramazani latched onto Inigo Eguaras' superb ball over the top and fired past Thibaut Courtois from just inside the penalty area.

    At five minutes and 50 seconds, that was the quickest goal Madrid have conceded on the opening day of a league season since Sergio Aguero scored against them for Atletico Madrid in August 2007.

    Los Blancos had a whopping 17 shots before the interval, yet a combination of smart goalkeeping from Fernando and uncharacteristically wasteful finishing from Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior prevented them from finding a leveller.

    Fernando continued to frustrate Madrid after the break, denying Benzema with a fine save, but he was eventually beaten in the 61st minute when Vazquez slammed home after the Almeria goalkeeper had kept out Vinicius' effort. 

    Alaba then ensured Madrid went back to the capital with maximum points, whipping past a helpless Fernando immediately after entering the action.

    What does it mean? Madrid bounce back to deny plucky hosts

    Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

    Vasquez and Alaba had other ideas, though, as Los Blancos stretched their unbeaten run on the opening day of LaLiga to 14 games.

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    Alaba did not need to settle into the action before dispatching a glorious free-kick past Fernando with his first touch. That goal meant he is one of only two players, alongside Real Betis' Nabil Fekir, to have scored two goals from free-kicks in LaLiga since the start of last season.

    Fantastic Fernando

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    "Maybe it would be better, maybe it would be better," he added. "But honestly we also have VAR, to help make the right decisions.

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